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Uncovering the extent of cybercrime across the UK

An illustration of a computer screen with a security message in a speech bubble

The real picture of a real risk

How prevalent is computer-orientated crime in the UK? Can we trust the reported numbers as the true picture of the problem?

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Technology has helped older people be better connected during the coronavirus outbreak. Social media and video calling can help bring people together to feel less lonely and isolated. Unfortunately, our increased use of tech has also provided opportunities for criminals to capitalise on any worry and confusion that many people have likely felt over the last few months. Cybercrimes and scams can have a devastating impact that leaves victims in desperate financial situations.

Cybercrime can take many forms, from phishing and investment fraud, to ID theft and blackmail. To date, more than £5m has been lost to coronavirus-related scams and £16m has been lost to online shopping fraud since lockdown began. The majority of fraud linked to coronavirus involves online purchases for personal protective equipment (PPE), such as face masks, that never arrive. Criminals have also been sending phishing emails and texts claiming to be from the Government, HMRC and health bodies to convince the recipient to open links or attachments and get them to reveal personal or financial information.

The effects on victims can be profound. While the most immediate impact is financial, being a victim of a scam can have a serious impact on an individual's health, wellbeing and relationships.

It's therefore vital that we have the knowledge and tools to protect ourselves online to minimise the risk of falling victim to cybercrime.

How often is cybercrime reported across the UK? 

To uncover the extent of cybercrime across the UK, Age UK completed detailed research focusing on individuals aged 55 and over living in England and Wales during the period of 2018-19.

The data collected enabled the creation of the graphics on this page, which outline how many cases of cybercrime were reported in each police force region during this period, as well as the reported financial losses. It is worth noting, however, that only a fraction of cybercrime is reported to authorities, so the true figures are likely to be much higher.

This first data visualisation map looks at the number and percentage of people who reported cybercrime during 2018-19. To view the figures in more detail, hover over each police force region to display the data.

From the data, you can clearly see that the Metropolitan Police region of Greater London had the highest number of cybercrime reports. During 2018-19, 3,821 reports were made, with 12 percent of this figure being those aged 55 and over.

How much money is lost to cybercrime across the UK?

The next map explores the topic in further detail and focuses on the amount lost by individuals aged 55 and over who have fallen victim to cybercrime. To view the figures in more detail, hover over each police force region to display the data.

It may come as no surprise that it’s residents in the Metropolitan area of Greater London who felt the financial effects of cybercrime the most. According to this research, those aged 55 and above lost more than £720,000 as a result of cybercrime during the period, but it wasn’t the only region with a high financial loss.

The county of Dorset was also at the top end of the scale, almost £278,000 was taken from individuals aged 55 and over across the region.

All of the data featured within the maps can also be viewed in a table

Show table
Name of police force region Total number of cybercrime reports Number of cybercrime reports from people aged 55 or over % of total cybercrime reports Total amount lost by cybercrime reports for people aged 55 or over

Avon and Somerset Constabulary

678

156

23%

£100,814.00

Bedfordshire Police

245

37

15%

£584.93

Cambridgeshire Constabulary

317

62

20%

£21,950.00

Cheshire Constabulary

363

91

25%

£75,808.00

City of London Police

49

3

6%

£49.00

Cleveland Police

158

34

22%

£7,171.00

Cumbria Constabulary

170

46

27%

£12,517.00

Derbyshire Constabulary

330

62

19%

£27,835.00

Devon and Cornwall

628

167

27%

£156,600.99

Dorset Police

291

90

31%

£277,902.00

Durham Constabulary

195

44

23%

£16,261.00

Dyfed-Powys Police

126

30

24%

£20,785.00

Essex Police

705

142

20%

£126,590.00

Gloucestershire Constabulary

251

66

26%

£28,178.00

Greater Manchester Police

852

126

15%

£87,849.00

Gwent Police

173

26

15%

£9,756.00

Hampshire Constabulary

769

175

23%

£136,842.00

Hertfordshire Constabulary

533

96

18%

£73,192.00

Humberside Police

260

55

21%

£17,272.00

Kent Police

796

127

16%

£77,788.67

Lancashire Constabulary

422

80

19%

£108,343.00

Leicestershire Police

321

60

19%

£26,704.00

Lincolnshire Police

282

81

29%

£114,475.00

Merseyside Police

382

70

18%

£18,524.00

Metropolitan Police Service

3821

450

12%

£720,795.31

Norfolk Constabulary

293

64

22%

£56,495.00

North Wales Police

286

54

19%

£79,820.00

North Yorkshire Police

254

68

27%

£40,406.00

Northamptonshire Police

248

46

19%

£20,037.00

Northumbria Police

411

71

17%

£77,180.00

Nottinghamshire Police

433

75

17%

£67,981.21

South Wales Police

441

66

15%

£61,779.00

South Yorkshire Police

373

60

16%

£90,397.00

Staffordshire Police

365

66

18%

£258,144.00

Suffolk Constabulary

271

66

24%

£27,890.00

Surrey Police

562

126

22%

£159,967.00

Sussex Police

657

182

28%

£91,968.00

Thames Valley Police

959

167

17%

£111,186.00

Warwickshire Police

185

39

21%

£52,842.00

West Mercia Police

447

103

23%

£141,372.00

West Midlands police

861

133

15%

£9,790.00

West Yorkshire Police

779

150

19%

£122,521.00

Wiltshire Police

298

55

18%

7,561

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How Age UK fights cybercrime

Age UK is helping to combat cybercrime and support victims. We do this by providing comprehensive information and advice to assist those affected, helping to improve digital confidence in older people, and working with banks and law enforcement to identify avenues for scams.

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Last updated: Jul 08 2020

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